Can a Modern Mosque in Copenhagen Settle the Disputes Between Danes and Muslims?

Given the local tensions with Muslim immigrants, the Bjarke Ingels Group mosque is either ingenious or outrageous.

Bjarke Ingels Group has conceived of an island resort out of thin air, kidnapped Denmark’s national treasure to show off at the Shanghai Expo, and designed a library for a Kazakh dictator who makes Ivan the Terrible look like St. Francis of Assisi. None of which compares to the audacity of this: They’re building Copenhagen’s first ground-up mosque, and it looks like a giant minaret.

The design is gorgeous, a sort of patterned ziggurat that climbs 150 feet in the air, before culminating in a dome-shaped skylight; over the sidewalk, a pair of slender minarets preside. But in a country where the right makes no secret of its anti-Muslim sentiment, and where ill-conceived cartoons stoked an international crisis a few years ago, the mosque is bound to stir emotions.

It speaks volumes that the architects felt the need to describe the building in Danish terms. In their project statement, they bill the 150-foot spiral as "the Islamic counterpart" to Copenhagen’s Our Saviour Church, and the skylight replaces a traditional closed ceiling so that the place can be "bathed in Danish daylight." "Our purpose was to design a Danish mosque as an interpretation of the Islamic architectural and cultural tradition adjusted to the Danish context — the same elements that we know from traditional mosques in the Arabic world, adapted to Danish climate conditions and lighting," Bjarke Ingels said.

Is this just window dressing? Carefully crafted rhetoric to convince Copenhagen, a city that somehow manages to be both a progressive mecca and a hopeless backwater, to finally build a showcase mosque? If it is, it’s working. The design cleared a big hurdle in the city approval process last month. And as long as the country doesn’t follow Switzerland’s example, Copenhagen may have its mosque yet.

Add New Comment

5 Comments

  • sandmanhbl

    Hi Robert,
    I'm an indian and a hindu. Did u know that long time ago the all of afganistan and pakistan were hindu kingdoms. Did u know that these hindu regions were invaded by the muslims and that the hindu temples were destroyed and in the same place mosques were built and that the people were converted to islam at the knife point.

    Islam is not like all other major religions which advocate love for all humans.

    You may like to visit the following website www.faithfreedom.org

  • hisham suliman

    @ Mark Mecca is not Europe...FYI there are tons of churches all over the middle East. When the Vatican allows for a mosque to be build in there then you can design that church in Mecca....

  • Mark Raymond

    Robert, fair enough and good argument. But having lived in Saudi Arabia for quite a few years, we were required to respect their religion and culture. If someone wants to move to Europe, that's great, but don't try and build your mosques in a country that has been Christian for thousands of years. If anyone wants to move to Europe, they should adapt to Europe, not Europe to them. The Australian PM had a very good and stern speech regarding immigrants basically telling them they were all welcome, however it was the immigrants who were expected to adapt.

  • Robert Davidson

    Actually "Mark" the better comparison would be the vatican. There are thousands of churches all over the Muslim world.

    What you are saying is like saying to the catholics, when you let us build a protestant church in the vatican, then we'll let you build in America

  • Mark Raymond

    when Muslims let Christians build a church in Mecca, then they can start building mosques in Europe!